Research in Science Education

, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 453–460 | Cite as

Using an Informal Cardiovascular System Activity to Study the Effectiveness of Science Education in Unexpected Places

  • Elyssa Lynne Monzack
  • Greta M. Zenner PetersenEmail author


Venues for informal science education are usually those sought out by people who are specifically looking for an educational experience. Whether planning a trip to a museum or choosing a television program, these individuals are actively seeking an informal educational experience; they are a self-selected group. This paper investigates whether members of the public will respond to an informal science activity that is placed in a location where learning about science would be unexpected. This project developed and used an activity about the cardiovascular system in which participants were able to walk the path of blood flow through the heart, body, and lungs. This activity was tested in two types of settings: where science was either expected or unexpected. A non-traditional assessment method was used to evaluate the effectiveness of the activity in the unexpected versus the expected settings. Ultimately, the activity was found to be equally effective in both settings, providing evidence for success in bringing informal science education to the general population in non-traditional venues.


Assessment Cardiovascular system Embodied learning Informal science education Public science education 



The authors would like to thank the Delta Program, Prof. Kristyn Masters, Dr. Tom Zinnen, Dr. Kimberly Duncan, Christine Reich, and Elizabeth Kollmann for their support and contributions to this project, and the National Science Foundation through the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center on Nanostructured Interfaces (DMR-0079983 and DMR-0520527) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


  1. (2003). Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 40, No. 2 Google Scholar
  2. (2004). Science Education, 88, No. S1Google Scholar
  3. (2006). Science Activities, 43, No. 2Google Scholar
  4. (2006). The Science Teacher, 72, No. 1Google Scholar
  5. (2007). International Journal of Science Education, 29, No. 12Google Scholar
  6. American Heart Association’s Cardiovascular disease statistics (2010). Retrieved April 21, 2010, from
  7. Bort, N. (2007). Using the arts to enhance science learning. Science Scope, 31, 56–59.Google Scholar
  8. Bullion-Mears, A., McCauley, J. K., & McWhorter, J. Y. (2007). Erupting with great force: performing text to enhance reading comprehension. Science Scope, 31(1), 16–21.Google Scholar
  9. Gassert, P., & Wenger, G. (2001). See Jane Swing from a string? Science and Children, 38(6), 46–49.Google Scholar
  10. Hommerding, M. (2007). Science prop boxes. Science and Children, 45(3), 42–45.Google Scholar
  11. Kase-Polisini, J., & Spector, B. (1992). Improvised drama: a tool for teaching science. Youth Theatre Journal, 7(1), 15–19.Google Scholar
  12. Muir, S., & Wells, C. (1983). Informal evaluation. The Social Studies, May/June, 95–99Google Scholar
  13. Nano ganz gross. (2010). Retrieved April 21, 2010, from
  14. National Science Board. (2008). Science and Engineering Indicators, pg. 7-14, Arlington, VA, Retrieved September 26, 2008 from
  15. Palmer, D. H. (1999/2000). Using dramatizations to present science concepts: activating students’ knowledge and interest in science. Journal of College Science Teaching, 29(3), 187–190.Google Scholar
  16. Sights Unseen. (2010). UW -Madison nano research mixes art with coffee, Retrieved April 21, 2010 from
  17. The City University of New York’s Science and the Arts (2010). Retrieved April 21, 2010, from
  18. Whitaker, S. (1993). Using dramatic improvisation in science teaching. The Australian Science Teachers Journal, 39(2), 41–43.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elyssa Lynne Monzack
    • 1
  • Greta M. Zenner Petersen
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Biomedical EngineeringUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Materials Research Science and Engineering Center on Nanostructured InterfacesUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

Personalised recommendations